Subdivision Roads: Could a countywide PID be the solution?

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One possible solution to the subdivision paving issue could be funding it by a countywide PID. Supporters hope to have the issue on the ballot as early as 2020.

This article is the fourth in a series, which explores various subdivision-paving issues and points of views in unincorporated Boulder County.

Peter King-Smith, head of the HOA Roads Committee for the Pine Brook Hills subdivision, has been working with the Boulder County Commissioners and the Boulder County Transportation Department for over 10 years trying to figure out how to fund rebuilding and rehabilitating county subdivision roads.

The key words for King-Smith are “working with” these departments. He said that both the commissioners and the transportation department have been very supportive. The issue is that “none of us have been able to come up with a resolution of how to fund the problem.”

King-Smith said that while Pine Brook has looked at several ways to finance repaving their subdivision, but the cost was prohibitive. He feels the only way to get the job done for all subdivisions is a countywide Public Improvement District (PID) initiative.

“A county wide PID would certainly be a good answer and the advantage of a PID is that it isn’t just a one-time solution. It’s an on-going tax. It is deductible, because it is a property tax. It is a good solution, but it is one that hasn’t passed the voters.”

King-Smith was one of the leads in the 2016 ballot initiative 1A. The initiative’s purpose was to “develop a long-term solution for the maintenance and continuing rehabilitation of subdivision roads as well as numerous unfunded roads infrastructure projects in all 10 Boulder County cities.” The initiative has the full support of the commissioners and George Gerstle, who, at the time, was the Boulder County Transportation director.

In 1995 the Board of County Commissioners changed the definition of road maintenance for unincorporated county subdivisions to exclude road rehabilitation and reconstruction, but never provided a means to pay for the work. During the intervening 24 years, no taxes have been collected to fix the issue. 1A was an attempt to fund a 15-year road reconstruction project.

While the initiative didn’t pass, King-Smith was pleased that 1A did receive 46% of the vote. “We were pretty naive and new at doing that sort of thing,” he said.

As for current efforts, King-Smith is a member of an ad hoc group made up of members from the larger subdivisions in Boulder County who have a common interest in getting things done. The group meets regularly with both the commissioners and transportation director Jeff Maxwell.

Smith-King thinks the commissioners and the transportation department are working on a “fairly broad infrastructure funding and measure and we are hoping and have discussed with them that fixing subdivision roads would be incorporated into that same measure.

“We would like to do something in concert with what appears to be… a fairly significant infrastructure measure… What we’re trying to do is avoid being a completely separate issue… We said we’d like to be a part of anything that’s countywide that hopefully involved other transportation funding in there, so that this is included in that.”

When asked about any broad countywide measure, Maxwell said, “We are always talking about strategies to address funding issues, but I don’t have specific information for you at this time.”

If this type of measure fails, Smith-King said that they would try to do something similar to 1A again. “It’s not our preferred way to do it, but we would probably go back and have another attempt at it.”

When such a measure might be on the ballot, Smith-King is hoping that it might be as soon as 2020, especially if there is funding for subdivisions in a broader transportation measure. But the commissioners have indicated that there might be a lot of funding items on the 2020 ballot, so that a broader transportation measure could be put off until 2021.

He added, “We were saying that the first major attempt, if we weren’t involved (in the broader countywide measure) would be 2021.”

In the meantime, costs continue to escalate. “It was a $70 million problem five years ago,” Smith-King said.

In 2016, outside consultants were brought in to do an in depth analysis of every road in every subdivision in the county. “The work that was done, was really well done,” Smith-King said. “It was a working document that I’m sure Jeff Maxwell is still using… although it’s aged a bit…

It’s not like people have been sitting around not doing anything. We are in a good position to do the work, if we can get the funds to do it.”